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Fresh Right Now: Key Lime Time

Fresh Right Now: Key Lime Time

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Summer is peak season for Key limes—a fruit no bigger than a walnut but mighty in intensity. In our panna cotta (on the next page), we use the aromatic juice with restraint to highlight the fruit's floral notes along with its distinct tang. While tarter and more acidic than Persian limes, Key limes are actually a little sweeter. The juice adds zing to marinades for fish, pork, and chicken and is delightful in a juicy cocktail. The zested skin will add flavor to icings or salad dressings. About four Key limes give you as much juice as one Persian lime, and with the skyrocketing price of the latter, Key limes may be the better buy. Get 'em now—while they're fresh.

We used only enough gelatin for the creamy texture and wobbly jiggle panna cotta is known for.

½ cup half-and-half½ cup low-fat sweetened condensed milk2 tablespoons grated Key lime rind¼ teaspoon salt, divided1 cup 2% reduced-fat milk, divided1¼ teaspoons unflavored gelatin2 tablespoons Key lime juice, divided (about 4)Cooking spray1½ tablespoons honey1 teaspoon unsalted butter1 low-fat graham cracker sheet, crushed into coarse crumbs

1. Combine first 3 ingredients and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Remove pan from heat; cover and let stand for 30 minutes.

2. Place ¼ cup 2% milk in a medium bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over milk; let stand 10 minutes.

3. Return pan to medium-high heat; bring to a simmer. Add hot milk mixture to gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin dissolves. Add remaining ¾ cup 2% milk. Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a medium bowl; discard solids. Stir in 1 tablespoon Key lime juice. Divide mixture evenly among 4 (4-ounce) ramekins or custard cups lightly coated with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

4. Combine remaining 1 tablespoon juice and honey.

5. Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add crumbs and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cook 1 minute or until lightly toasted, stirring constantly. Cool completely. To serve, loosen edges of panna cotta with a knife or rubber spatula. Invert ramekins onto dessert plates. Drizzle each with about 2 teaspoons honey mixture, and top with about 2 teaspoons graham cracker crumbs.

SERVES 4CALORIES 251; FAT 7.3g (sat 4.5g, mono 1.6g, poly 0.2g); PROTEIN 7g; CARB 37g; FIBER 0g; CHOL 24mg; IRON 0mg; SODIUM 250mg; CALC 224mg

Key Lime Cookies

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Topped with key lime curd, these Key Lime Cookies are light, delicious and the perfect cookie.

As a food blogger, one of the things that makes me the happiest is to receive an email or a comment from someone who has tried one of my recipes and loved it! I originally posted this recipe back in 2008 and to be honest, I had forgotten about it. With over 2,000 recipes on the blog that is easy to do! Her comment read:

“These are divine! I made them exactly as the recipe states and they were perfect. I’ll be making these again and again! Thanks.”

After I read the comment I decided I needed to make them again.

Well, she was right, these cookies are divine! I am a huge key lime fan and these satisfied all my key lime cravings. My key lime bundt cake is also one of my favorites and this key lime ice cream is delicious. I always have a bottle of key lime juice in my refrigerator.

These cookies are light, crisp on the edges and just the right amount of lime goodness thanks to some lime curd. The recipe includes the directions for lime curd which is so easy to make and you may just want to grab a spoon and dig it but be sure and leave enough to make the cookies. If you prefer lemon, this recipe can also be done with lemons instead of limes.

Key Lime Curd

I made the lime curd the night before and then refrigerated it. You want the curd to be chilled so be sure to factor that in to your cookie baking time.

After making the dough, use your thumb to push an indentation into the cookie to fill with the lime curd. I used my smaller cookie scoop and then about 1 1/2 tsp of lime curd in the middle. You can definitely make them bigger if you want but the cookies do spread quite a bit.

After they are done baking, let them cool and then give them a sprinkle of powdered sugar for some extra pretty.

They are definitely a cookie that qualifies for the description of pretty and delicious!

Some of my other favorite key lime recipes

Some of my favorite kitchen tools I use to make Key Lime Cookies:

SMALL COOKIE SCOOP – This scoops out 1 Tbsp of dough and is perfect for bite size cookies or cookies that spread a lot.

KEY LIME JUICE : – I always have a bottle of this in the refrigerator.

SHEET PAN – I have at least six of these in my kitchen. I use them everyday. The 13 x 18 size is perfect and I use them for everything!

Recipe Summary

  • 1 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons finely ground graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
  • 2/3 cup fresh Key lime juice (about 23 Key limes total)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Key limes, thinly sliced into half-moons

Make crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in a small bowl. Press evenly onto bottom of an 8-inch square glass baking dish. Bake until dry and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. (Leave oven on.)

Make filling: Put egg yolks and lime zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on high speed until very thick, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. Add condensed milk in a slow, steady stream, mixing constantly. Raise speed to high mix until thick, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add lime juice mix until just combined.

Spread filling evenly over crust using a spatula. Bake, rotating dish halfway through, until filling is just set, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Refrigerate at least 4 hours (or overnight).

Cut into 2-by-2-inch bars. Put cream in the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the clean whisk attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Garnish bars with whipped cream and a slice of lime.

MAKE AHEAD cheesecake!

Key lime cheesecake is the perfect dessert for all your spring and summer festivities because it’s not only fabulous but make ahead friendly! This means you can make the cheesecake 24 hours up to 7 days ahead of time, or freeze for up to two months! No more stress free, last minute hustle desserts!

My goal for this key lime cheesecake recipe was to create a dessert that was 100% make ahead friendly and stress free for Easter/entertaining – that includes the whipped cream. If you make traditional whipped cream and pipe it onto the cheesecake, it will deflate, or even worse, it will be weeping within the hour. This is where miraculous stabilized whipped cream saves the day.

Stabilized whipped cream is heavy cream that has been whipped with sugar and gelatin in order to give it structure but it doesn’t alter the flavor – it’s magic!

To use this stabilized whipped cream, you’ll pipe it onto the cheesecake any time after it’s cooled to room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to serve. The whipped cream will hold its shape long after the last bite of cheesecake is gone (it holds indefinitely). This mean your key lime cheesecake can be 100% ready to serve days before Easter! And bonus, it tastes even better the second day.

A couple more recipes with Key limes for you:

Girl Scout Cookies are the ultimate feel-good treat because of what you support when you buy them! The Girl Scout Cookie Program is the largest girl-run business in the world where girls gain leadership and business entrepreneurial skills. In fact, more than half of women in business are Girl Scout alumnae and say that the Girl Scout Cookie Program was beneficial to the development of their skills today.

  • 2017 marks 100 years of Girl Scouts selling cookies to fuel their dreams!
  • Girl Scout Cookies are on sale in Greater Los Angeles through March 12 . Find a cookie sale near you by going to . Cookies are $5/box, except for the two specialty cookies: gluten-free Tofeetastic and non-GMO Girl Scout S’mores, which are $6/box.
  • Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles social media — Twitter & Instagram: @ GirlScoutsLA / Facebook:

This is not a sponsored post. I was sent Girl Scout cookies from the Girl Scouts of Los Angeles to test recipes using Thin Mints, and Key limes from Melissa’s Produce for more recipe testing.


Made it for family. The consensus was that the crust was too thick and too sweet. Not enough filling. Topped it with meringue, which was okay. (I could use a dependable meringue recipe.)

I made this recipe for the first time and made two versions, one as indicated and one gluten free. both were a hit. I used Marie biscuits instead of Graham crackers. Im not an experienced baker but found this so tasty and I love the lime tang.

Sometimes I make the crust out of crushed gingersnaps or coconut cookies. Have also found that topping the pie with a blueberry sauce is very tasty. Plus guests are surprised when what they thought was blueberry pie is key lime pie

I am giving this four forks with the following changes, I add some chopped pecans to my crust, and use the egg whites to make Italian meringue which makes this a true show stopper.

Made this as a tart and instead of whipped cream made Italian meringue since I already had the egg whites. I have to say this is the only way to eat this. I have made it with whipped cream but once you have tried it with meringue you will not go back.

I made this today. I Did this so that weɽ have it for dessert tonight, but sadly 1/2 is already gone. It is just wonderful, I am so pleased And honestly, it is a perfect recipe for a novice baker, it is too easy. THANK YOU.

I have tried several key lime pie recipes, and I keep coming back to this one as my favorite. It had the right balance of tart and sweet, and the graham cracker crust is not too sweet.

Notes for me. Doubled filling and baked 15 min at 350, 15 min at 325.

So. Graham cracker crust is whack. Use shortbread crust. so much better. Also. use coconutmilk whipped cream. The rest of the recipe, with the bit of lemon is perfect. but coconutmilk whipped cream adds the je ne sais quoi that is a secret success!

This was a hit, really really good, took the advise of a few others and added chopped pecans and toasted coconut to the graham cracker crust. I also added zest from lime to the filling. This was very easy make it!

A resounding NO to topping Key Lime Pie with whipped cream. MERINGUE is authentic. (from reader who was so fortunate to grow up with key lime trees growing in back yard in Coconut Grove (Miami). Key lime trees were wiped out in 1920's hurricane but many were in Miami neighborhoods.

I made this for Easter with a few modifications. I added an additional tablespoon of key lime juice to make it an even 1/2 cup and also added 1 tablespoon of key lime zest. For the whipped cream, I added fresh vanilla bean seeds. For the crust, I omitted the cinnamon and used brown sugar instead of white. These changes, along with a good foundation, led to an amazing Key Lime Pie. Everyone wanted the recipe, and I’ve added it to my favorite recipe list. So simple to make and just perfect. The filling is so creamy, it melts in your mouth.

Have made this pie several times and it always gets rave reviews from family and friends. No need for me to go back to previously-used key lime pie recipes. This is my keeper.

This was delicious. Had a small dinner party, and all my guests were raving about this dessert!

I live in the Florida Keys . Interesting recipe. When I make my pie . I add one teaspoon of Key Lime zest. I have not tried the addition of lemon juice. I also use two whole eggs and two yokes instead of all yokes . I also make raspberry sauce, by heating raspberry jam and adding fresh raspberries. Key Lime pie was first served in Key West in the late 1800s . Early pies were not baked relying on the acid to "cook" the pies. (souring) In the warm climate no one wanted to stand over a hot stove. Pies are cooked today over the concern of eating raw eggs.

My 2 tips for improvement (for my gang, at least): 1. Substitute 1/4 of the graham crackers with ginger snaps. 2.A little lime zest adds a lot of deep limey flavor.

It's okay, but as other Florida residents have said, it's not the traditional, classic Key Lime pie. That said, if you're going to change it up, toasted coconut mixed in the crust, and sliced, ripe mango on the top instead of whipped cream works well.

The four of us each voted with our fork and it gets four forks. Each of us wanted our quarter of the pie because it was so good. This pie is a great platform to jump off of and add your own personality. I sometimes add nuts to the crust and a little zest to the custard. Just add your personal touches and freaking eat the pie! Your friends will thank you or call you god/goddess divine. Especially good on a hot day.

I would give this even more forks if the site allowed it. You will simply be a hero (heroine) with this key lime pie. It is easy but absolutely delicious. I have had guests say that it is the best they ever had. and I have some key lime connoisseurs in my circle! Make this!

I use this recipe long time ago only I add a quarter of a cup of water extra to the filling and the texture not only is better (less heavy) but is also less sweet which is perfect for me that don't like extra sweet desserts.

I tried making this pie. I'm not a good baker, but custard type desserts I can do. I agree with all those who said "this is not key lime pie." I'm from South Florida. Miami to be exact and I can tell you. this is not key lime pie. The filling reminded me more of lemon meringue pie. It was very yellow for some reason. I thought it tasted good, but not like key lime pie. I'll stick with my own recipe.

My 10-yr-old daughter and I made this recipe together, and it was delicious! It wasn't too sweet and was easy to make. We didn't have key limes, so we made a 50:50 mix of lime:lemon juice to replace the key lime juice. It was actually the best version of key lime pie I have ever had. One of the other reviewers mentioned too much butter in the crust, so we cut it back by 1 tblsp. It was excellent, and the cinnamon was a nice addition!

This was delicious! It had the perfect sweet to tart ratio and I completely agree that the lemon cut any bitterness. The cinnamon in the crust just adds the most wonderful aroma and "little something". I will definitely make this recipe again, it was a breeze to make and in just a few hours! Thank you so much epicurious.

Made this for a bbq we hosted and everyone loved it! Instead of the whipped cream topping, I used the leftover egg whites and made a merengue. Baked the pie as directed, then popped it back in to brown the merengue. The additional cooking time didn't seem to affect the finished product.

I would give it a 4 rating, but the site is not behaving and will only let me choose 3! Oh well. This was my first time making key lime pie, and I thought it turned out great. It was very easy and the homemade crust gave it something special (I added some freshly grated ginger in with the graham cracker mix, and I thought it was a nice touch). I would definitely make it again.

Key Lime Pie Ingredients

Key lime pie requires surprisingly few ingredients, so there are really no substitutions you can make (besides using regular limes in place of key limes, in a pinch). For this authentic key lime pie recipe, you’ll need:

  • Graham cracker crust (store-bought or homemade)
  • Egg yolks
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Lime zest
  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Vanilla

What is the difference between a key lime and a regular lime?

Some of the major differences between the two types of limes are as follows:

  1. They’re smaller
  2. More acidic
  3. Contains more seeds
  4. Stronger aroma
  5. Lighter and thinner skin

One of my FAVORITE desserts is key lime pie. Though I’m not a huge dessert person, I will grab a slice whenever we’re in Florida. Not everyone in my family cares for it though, which is why I made these Key Lime Pie Tassies.

Like I explained when I made these Blueberry Pie Tassies a tassie means ‘a small cup’. Basically, they’re small, individual cookies with a crust and filling.

In this case, I used a graham cracker crust and filling made with key lime juice, sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks.

To make these cookies you’ll also need a mini muffin pan and a mini tart shaper. It’s not necessary, but certainly makes it easier than using your fingers!

Key lime pie

At first glance, Key limes are hard to resist. Bright green, shading to lemon yellow, smooth, compact and tiny, they’re adorably cute -- yeah, cute, just like a little puppy. It’s hard not to want to snatch a bag or two along with your other groceries.

Of course, once you have gotten them home, you have to use them. You can break out the cocktail shaker -- a no-brainer -- Key limes have often been referred to as the “bartender’s lime,” and they readily complement a whole host of libations. But then what? Fix margaritas for a small party and you may still be left with several cute little limes, sitting sadly alone on your counter like a tragic still life. What to do?

You might be tempted to substitute them for the larger limes, lemons or even some other citrus in a recipe, but be careful, because these cute little puppies pack a powerful bite.

Pair them with the right ingredients, however, and they can brighten an otherwise ordinary dish, adding depth and dimension. Give them a little room and they can add wonderful complexity, shining as a main flavor, highlighting a layered harmony, even working as a seasoning. They’ve got a wonderful personality if you just get to know them.

Like all members of the citrus family, Key limes have a definite acidity. They’re tart, sharp and incredibly sour, even more so than other limes -- they’re almost borderline bitter. Key limes are extreme. And despite their yellowish cast, don’t confuse them with lemons.

But after you get over the initial acidity, you might notice the herbal notes -- Key limes have their own harmony going on -- a bouquet almost. They’re not a one-note fruit.

The key to cooking with them is balance. Because their flavor and nose are so assertive, Key limes don’t always go well with other flavors. They won’t readily share the stage. You really need to fine-tune to get a good balance.

There are differences between Key limes and the limes we find in stores (commonly called “Tahitian” or “Persian,” even though they are not grown in Iran). Key limes (also called Mexican or West Indian limes) are the most common lime found throughout the world the U.S. is the exception in preferring the Persian lime.

That’s largely due to an accident of history. Key limes were commercially produced in Florida back at the turn of the last century, but the crop was wiped out by a hurricane in 1926. When the growers replanted, they chose the Persian lime, which is more disease-resistant and heavier bearing, though Key lime trees can still be found in many residential backyards.

Along with cocktails, probably the most popular way to use Key limes is in the eponymous pie. About the only thing everyone agrees on is that it includes Key lime juice, but that’s where the agreement ends. Most recipes combine the juice with sweetened condensed milk (some devotees swear by Borden’s, now marketed as Eagle Brand) and egg to form a rich custard. After that, almost anything goes. It can be spooned into either a graham cracker or pastry crust, and topped with either meringue or whipped cream.

Many older recipes do not call for baking the custard even the lime juice alone thickens the mixture over time to “set” the custard.

Cookbook author Rose Levy Beranbaum takes the pie in a different direction, which I like better. She lightens the custard with a bit of Italian meringue. Not only does it improve the texture, but it also helps distinguish the flavors on the palate, brightening the lime. The custard is baked in a classic graham cracker crust (baking helps to thicken the texture and firm up the slices) and topped with the remaining meringue, which is baked just long enough to slightly brown the edges.

Incidentally, Beranbaum prefers the Persian lime for the pie. She says the Key lime’s “bitterness seemed to penetrate the sweetness.” I prefer the punchiness of the Key lime.

The recipe is simple. Probably the hardest part is waiting long enough for the pie to chill sufficiently to eat.

One quick note here: You can’t bottle fresh flavor. Packaged Key lime juice may look easy, but it tastes like the shortcut that it is. Generally made from concentrate and treated for preservation, it lacks punch and often has metallic undertones.

Anyway, it’s not hard to find fresh Key limes in most Mexican markets (technically, they have a season, but they’re grown in so many places that you can find them year-round). Look for limes that are heavy for their weight, green shading to yellow (yellow signals ripeness, and makes for a slightly less tart lime). Store them at cool room temperature because refrigeration can speed decay.

It seems, more often than not, that Key limes (and limes in general) appear in sweet recipes, but they can be just as great in savory dishes.

Again, balance is the key. Sweet dishes tend to “tame” lime with sugar or other sweeteners, toning it down and softening it. At the same time, in many savory dishes, the sharp flavor is often contrasted with a spice and/or rich texture, as with guacamole. Lime juice is frequently used in marinades and dressings. Toss some arugula with grapefruit and avocado, then finish the salad with a light dressing of lime juice, honey and cumin. It’s a simple presentation, but the flavors can be stunning -- the balance comes from the sweetness of honey, the spice of cumin and the richness of avocado.

Or try a ceviche. Toss cubed fish in lime juice just until it turns opaque. The acid from the lime firms the fish, much like cooking, and it’s balanced by fresh-chopped serrano or jalapeno chile and cilantro. Indeed, lime and chile are frequently paired. Try combining them for a spicy, tangy marinade. It works well with chicken and makes for a particularly fun take on hot wings.

Or try a spicy Thai-inspired marinade: lime juice, chiles, onion, ginger and garlic. Season with a little soy sauce and toss in a bit of chipotle powder to add a smoky element. Marinate a couple pounds of chicken wings for a few hours, up to overnight, then fry until golden. Brush the wings with a sweet peanut sauce and finish them in the oven until the sauce cooks to a nice shellac. The combination of flavors is striking: First, you get the sweet peanut sauce, followed by the sharp acid and heat from the marinade.

Key limes also go particularly well with coconut. While the lime can be overwhelmingly tart, it works nicely with the rich, sweet flavor of coconut.

Try pairing Key lime and coconut in a scone. Substitute coconut milk and a little fresh lime juice for the liquid in a standard recipe, adding some toasted coconut for crunch and a little fresh lime zest to brighten the composition.

It’s a fun recipe, not overly sweet, and you don’t have to wait as long for scones to chill as you would a pie. Besides, they’re cute. But these puppies won’t bite.

My Mini Key Lime Pie Recipe

What you will need from the grocery store:

  • 2 cans Sweetened Condensed Milk, 14 oz each
  • 1 lime &ndash Key Limes or Regular Limes at room temperature
  • sour cream or greek yogurt
  • heavy cream
  • powdered sugar
  • vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, whisk together your filling ingredients: sweetened condensed milk, lime juice and sour cream (or yogurt) in large bowl until blended using a rubber spatula. Stir in the key lime zest.

Each little crust should get a heaping tablespoon of mixture of the tart key lime filling.

With the electric mixer or stand mixer using a whisk attachment on medium-high speed, make the whipped cream with the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Mix until your whipped cream goes from soft peaks to stiff peaks.

Next, top each little pie with homemade whipped cream and lime slices in the centers of the pies. You can also substitute for a dollop of cool whip

Your pies then need a chill time of at least one hour before serving.

These are best served the same day, but if you have leftover pies, refrigerate them.

Yes! The perfect graham cracker crust is so easy to make! In a food processor, process your graham crackers. Or place grahams in a zipped top bag and smash with a rolling pin. You will need 1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs. Mix with 6 tablespoons of melted butter and 1/4 cup of sugar. Press crust into mini pie pans, a mini tart pan or a muffin tin (no paper liners needed).

Fresh is always best, but if using bottled, use the Nellie & Joe&rsquos brand of fresh key lime juice.

Yes! Mini cheesecakes are so delicious. Try this Key Lime Cheesecake recipe.


  1. Seaghda

    What the right words ... super, wonderful phrase

  2. Gogal

    Many thanks for support how I can thank you?

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